Song Of The Day: The Walker Brothers, “No Regrets”

 

I must confess––it is absolutely impossible to sum up the enigmatic Scott Walker‘s equally puzzling and often confounding musical career, as it zig-zagged so consistently, leading him–and his “fans”– to write off much of his career. Though the fresh-faced 16-year-old wannabe pop idol might not be recognizable in the countenance of the 76-year-old man who passed away this week, those futile youthful dalliances and failed dreams from six decades ago helped to make him who he was. Yet he wasn’t always the dark and dense and impenetrable composer, either; focusing on his later years would give short shrift to his brilliant pop abilities that he would trade for a three-year run in the late Sixties that resulted in five of the greatest albums ever made. In true Scott Walker fashion, though, he quickly turned his career into recording schlocky but charmingly dorky MOR albums of contemporary country pop hits,

And then he… And then he… And then he…

You get the point. He didn’t stand still. Even when he disappeared for a decade, his reputation grew in his absence, during which his ability and talent was summed up with the seemingly over-the-top declaration of being “Godlike,” an outrageous and preposterous claim that absolutely no one contested.

So how, then, does one sum up the life of such an undefinable character in a song?  Scott’s most beloved muse was Death itself, making much of his fantastic catalog seem so obvious in tribute. Thus, a compromise; perhaps he is best represented by a song that wonderfully fell into the Scott Walker paradox. “No Regrets,” a song that the masterfully gifted songwriter named Scott Walker did not write (props to the talented songwriter Tom Rush), recorded as a comeback single for his pop group The Walker Brothers, an internationally acclaimed smash hit that was followed by an otherwise unsuccessful reunion that would conclude with one of the most challenging albums a straight pop group ever released, Nite Flights. “No Regrets” a goodbye wrapped in a hello, a proactive eulogy to douse any hopes of a second coming. That such a bleak song could be both a hit and a miss just seems so perfectly Scott Walker. I would like to think that as his spirit slowly seeped from his flesh-shell, he floated into the unknown and eternal chanting the simple mantra of no regrets, no tears goodbye, don’t want you back, we’d only cry again…

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